You’ve likely heard the term “PC Master Race” flying around the internet. There’s a good reason for it being so prevalent. PC gaming has picked up a lot of speed over the last few years. Consoles used to be the dominant force among gamers due to their simplicity and lost barrier to entry. Also, most games were built for them first.
Recently, gaming on a PC has become less expensive and, more importantly, less complicated. However, there’s an understandable reluctance toward taking the PC gaming plunge, which comes down to value.
Is PC Gaming a Waste of Money?
A complicated question to answer in-depth it is but the bottom line answer is no. Gaming on PC can be a good value proposition for a wider range of gamers. For starters, graphics cards have far longer life spans.
Take an NVIDIA GTX 1080 card as an example. It was released as a near-top-of-the-line card in 2016. Today, it can still punch well above its weight as it can still handle several AAA games at close to medium settings in full HD resolution. That’s close to how long you can expect a console to last.
However, price is a factor when deciding to dive into PC gaming. A budget rig can still be pricier than a current-gen PlayStation or Xbox when you factor in buying a monitor. If you plan on using it for games sparingly or if you aren’t going to use it for other tasks, then the value isn’t that great.
On the other hand, if you can spend a decent number of hours on a weekly basis gaming, then a mid-ranged gaming rig is a good value. It will last you for at least 5-6 years and can likely hold its own for longer if you’re not fussed about high graphics settings.
So, how much can you expect to spend on a gaming PC?
How Much Does PC Gaming Cost?
The full cost of gaming on PC is based on several factors, beginning with the computer itself. As mentioned above, you can buy pre-made rigs at prices that fit pretty much any budget. Price to performance, naturally, will vary so doing some research is important. Here’s a rough estimate of how much you can expect to spend on four different types of gaming PC towers:
- Budget – $500
- Mid-range – $600-1200
- High spec – $1300-2500
- Ultra spec – <$2600
Depending on the market, you could also build your own PC for a lot less. Apart from the better price, putting together your own rig also means you can choose the parts, resulting in a much higher value for money. Building a PC isn’t as hard as it used to be, and there are tons of instructions on YouTube guiding you through the process.
After you’re settled on a tower, you’ll need to pick up a monitor. These can go for as low as a couple hundred for something simple all the way to thousands for big panels that are ultrawide and at 4K resolutions. You’ll need to check your graphics card’s resolution for the best fit.
Finally, gaming on a PC also costs money to buy games and in this area, shopping smartly saves you a lot of money. Platforms like Steam, GOG, and Epic Games Store always have deep discounts going on, especially if you don’t mind playing games that are slightly older. Sometimes, publishers will bundle multiple games from the same series under one discount, giving you even more value.
Overall, there are several ways you can control how much you spend when gaming on a PC. But, there are more advantages to consider.
What are The Advantages of PC Gaming?
Gaming on a PC can open up doors to entirely unique game experiences. One major advantage PCs have over consoles is the ability to mod games. Mods are player-made additions that can significantly expand, alter, and improve certain titles. More importantly, they’re typically free.
Take Skyrim as an example. One of the most heavily modded games in history. It has a high level of community support behind it. From updated graphics to new quests and adventures, there’s a ton of additional content you can enjoy in just one game that already has hundreds of hours of gameplay on its own. There’s even a mod that turns Skyrim into a completely different game.
PC gaming is also home to a lot of early access and continuously developed games, such as 7 Days to Die and Valheim. Titles like these tend to come to PC first because they’re still being worked on and therefore are launched at a cheaper price. By the time they release on consoles, PC gamers have played them to death and back again. What’s more, games like these can end up getting minimal or delayed support on PlayStation and Xbox, meaning PC is the optimal place to enjoy them.
Finally, gaming on a PC means you get the best possible experience in certain game genres, namely FPS, city building, and RTS. Because these games play much better when using a keyboard and mouse, you’re essentially getting a diminished experience if you’re playing them on a console. A mouse is a better-suited controller for accurate aim and managing small elements on a map. On top of that, having a physical keyboard means you’ll have an easier time chatting with others in an MMORPG.
Overall, gaming on a PC is a pretty sweet deal when you put it all down. But, you may be wondering how high maintenance a rig can be.
How Often Do I Need to Upgrade My Gaming PC?
This will greatly depend on two factors: the components you initially buy and what your expectations are for graphics settings. Let’s start with the first.
When you initially buy or build your PC, you’ll likely want to pick up components that are of the current generation. You can save some money by choosing parts from the previous one but you’ll likely not get as much value in the long term. Furthermore, you’ll need to look at the four budget options we outlined in an earlier section. A budget machine will likely require some upgrading sooner than a high-spec one.
And this is where your graphics expectations come into play. If you were to buy an ultra-spec machine in the current generation of graphics cards, you could be looking at getting close to 7-9 years out of your rig if you don’t mind playing games that come out later at lower settings. Likewise, a budget machine may manage to make it roughly 5-6 years before beginning to struggle even at low graphics settings.
That all being said, it’s at this stage where people tend to lean more towards consoles.
Is Console Gaming Better?
You might start detecting a theme here but this, too, is a complicated question. Consoles offer several advantages that PCs don’t, primarily because of simplicity.
Even by today’s standards, PC gaming still requires a bit of fiddling and research to get a reasonably good experience. Some games may stutter despite you having a high-spec rig and that means you’ll need to search on Google for solutions. Consoles don’t normally have this problem. Console Games – they work right out of the box and even if they do have issues, the developers solve them.
Furthermore, consoles are better suited for group play. You can’t easily get a couch co-op experience playing Mario Party or Streets of Rage 4 on a PC that’s likely sitting on a desk instead of the living room TV. This is where controller simplicity also works to a console’s advantage.
Finally, consoles often enjoy the luxury of having game exclusivity. Sony, for instance, owns several high-profile studios that make masterpieces such as God of War, Spider-Man, Horizon Forbidden West, and others. Certain Japanese games also come significantly earlier to consoles due to how big the console market is in that country. If you’re a JRPG fan, you’ll likely prefer to play on an Xbox or PlayStation.
But there is good news:
Do Console Exclusives Come to PC?
In a lot of cases, yes. Games that are released initially as console exclusives do eventually find their way on PC as well. A big example is Sony’s recent change of strategy with God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Spider-Man all having made their way to Steam. In fact, Spider-Man is pegged as one of the best games to play on Steam Deck which is essentially a portable gaming PC.
Certain genres that were also typically only played on console, like fighting games, are now flourishing on PC as well. Titles like Tekken 7 and Street Fighter V are actually being touted as running more optimally on gaming PCs.
Should I Get Into PC Gaming as a Casual Gamer?
Consoles are often seen as the casual gamer’s device but that’s not entirely true. Just because you game a bit less than the average gamer doesn’t mean you’re confined to a specific machine category.
PCs have gotten a lot easier for even low-tech skilled people to understand. If you buy the right machine, you’ll get a near similar plug-and-play experience to the one you get from a PlayStation or Xbox. You may need to pay a bit extra to ensure you have a decent machine that won’t hassle you but it’ll last you a fairly long time.
As an added bonus, you’ll have better access to more casual game types, such as MMORPGs, farming games, simulators, and grand strategy titles. There’s also a far greater variety of free-to-play games on PC than there are on console.